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Which foreign languages are must-know nowadays?


Zimmermikeee

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I'm gonna study translation theory at university, and i gotta choose two more languages beside English.

They offer: German, French, Spanish, Italian and Chinese. Which two of em can you consider must-know? (My choice will be based on whether knowing a language is useful)

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As a German I always like to see people learn german, but considering the usefulness of the language I would recommend french and spanish. Of course chinese (mandarin) is the mostspoken language worldwide with over 1 bn. speakers, but french and spanish are more useful to communicate worldwide besides english. Spanish has over 400 million speakers and french ist used as a lingua franca in broad parts of Africa. 

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This can be very helpful :

 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_languages_by_total_number_of_speakers

 

According to this, 

 

Chinese 

Spanish 

French 

German 

Italian 

 

Well, this is if we base only on the number of speakers. Each language is useful and important for sure.

 

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DarkGloomSquid

Well think what you may plan to do with those languages, where you might possibly end up on which side of the world. 

 

Also take in how well you are with languages so you dont end up choosing a difficult language you will struggle with and that you may never get the hang of.

Why not do a small online thing like duolingo of each language and see what also appeals to you.

Knowing any other language is useful. You never know when it may come in handy one day.

 

If you want to look at the top Spanish and Mandarin would obviously be the ones, I would say. Spanish speakers are growing and with the popularity of Mandarin as well.

I personally like the idea of knowing a language from each continent could be useful cause you never know where you might end up. Also knowing a language that is not popular like Spanish or Mandarin or so forth can also be a benefit cause well you got so many who knows those so it could also benefit to not take a popular one as well.

 

But remember knowing another language period is useful. Just look at what career path you are taking and where you could end up. Look at preparing at where you may go. 

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Chinese and Spanish. Not only are they the most useful languages, but they will provide you two very different experiences and perspectives, one being entirely different from English in every way, and one being different but close enough for familiarity in the grammar and the culture behind it.

 

Edit: "useful" being based on both number of speakers and the increasing importance of the countries which use them, China especially (she says while learning Japanese)

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That's a no brainer : Chinese and Spanish are the obvious choices if you are just considering how useful they will be. They are just spoken by more people.¬†Chinese is a lot harder to learn than the other languages from the list, though. I don't speak Chinese, but I speak Japanese which uses over 2000 different signs¬†taken from the Chinese system.¬† There were gruelling¬†to learn and¬†yeah, Mandarin is way harder : ¬†there are a lot more written characters and it's much¬†harder to pronounce for a foreigner. It's of course not impossible¬†and you might be very gifted with language learning, but I'm pretty sure that¬†to learn it with another completely new language will be brutal. I probably would balk at the workload¬†perspective. ¬†ūüėĀ

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2 hours ago, Zimmermikeee said:

German, French, Spanish, Italian and Chinese.

I'll go about this in terms of learning two languages from scratch:

- personally I'd advice against starting to learning two similar languages simultaneously, in this case French, Spanish and Italian as they're all Latin-based or Romance languages. It can be helpful, for sure, but also quite confusing and make you mix them up

- so instead, I'd pick either one Latin-based one and German or Chinese, or German and Chinese

- in terms of "easy to learn", languages more similar to your native tongue (in this case Indo-European languages) are easier than something as far away as Chinese. I've personally only learned some Japanese and although I find its grammar very logical and in a way easy to understand, also wrt pronunciation, the very different sentence structure and use of grammar takes significantly longer to get used to

 

In terms of "usefulness" it really depends what you want to do with it. If you want to become a translator you can either go down the road of "most used languages" which may open possibilities for work in various countries/settings but also of "more niche languages" where you might be limited in terms of locations but that might not have many translators already.

 

Basically my answer is "I don't know"ūüėÖ

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As someone who's worked in translation...

 

A lot of it depends on what you want to do. If you want to translate fiction, then some of the European languages, although there's been interest towards Chinese literature recently. If you want to translate technical documents and the like, which will be a much more reliable money maker, then Chinese and probably German. Although as many people have said, Chinese is supposedly a bitch to learn, but then again if you do learn it there's a whole new world of opportunities.

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Since you need to speak (as in know) both languages really well in order to be a good translator I'd suggest choosing languages that you like. You'll need a lot of devotion to immerse yourself into the languages; it'll be easier if you enjoy it.

I second what @Quasar.w said about not choosing similar languages.

 

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51 minutes ago, Ennis said:

languages that you like

Seconding that as well!

I had to learn three foreign languages at school, one I liked and am now fluent in as I spent a lot of my free time watching series, reading books ecc. for fun (which is also just practise), one I didn't like that much for reasons not having to do with the actual language, didn't practise for fun and am still only ok to good at despite 4 more years of learning it in school and one I hated or rather I hated the way we learned it and have forgotten most of it again.

With the two I chose myself it was out of liking them and their respective countries, so an interest beyond "knowing a popular language". This definitely helps, as it gives you motivation for continuing as well as opportunities to practise in your free time while doing something for fun. Personally I think you can develop an interest, so the only thing I'd advise against is choosing to learn a language if you already know you don't like it, the sound of it, the writing system ecc.

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The most useful is who you need to communicate with the most around you.

 

Outside of English in my case it is Spanish. 

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English. Half the world speaks it, the rest expects you to. English native speakers especially. Jokes aside though.

 

Spanish, French, Russian and Chinese are good choices when considering how common they are. That's because those are spoken or are at least understood in several countries or are spoken by a large amount of people in their respective corners of the world or even across several continents. From studying Italian though I an tell you that choosing one of the three big Romanic languages is usually enough, but I'd would recommend Spanish if you want to speak to the highest amount of people. However, French is pretty important in economic contexts. Overall, I'd suggest your two languages being of different families. It's more work but also more diverse and will probably be more respected by most and also give the flair of being a "globetrotter" that can handle very different cultures. And yes, cultural studies are absolutely necessary to grasp languages on a deep level.

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I think it depends on your country. 

 

I am in Canada, so French and Spanish would likely be most practical.

 

Even if not, French is to me more practical than Chinese unless you planned to travel in a country where it was spoken, or were to do business there.

 

Spanish quite simply, opens you doors from South America, to the US, to Europe to name a few places where high volumes of people speak it. 

 

Its also incredibly easy to learn. 

 

I thank my learning of Spanish for my ease with languages like Tagalog, which my fiancee speaks along with Cantonese.

 

My French has helped me in events where I had Portuguese clients that struggled with their English. Many of the words spoken slowly to me, were picked up due to the similarity in many of the intonation.

 

Having both Spanish and French just on a practical level, equips you to speak in an immense amount of countries.

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Ask yourself: WHERE do you want to work? What field do you want to work in? And choose accordingly. If you're going by the numbers, Chinese and Spanish are definitely up there. But German, for example, is spoken by more people in the Western world - as opposed to Spanish, which is prevalent in the emerging Latin American countries. If you worked with anything related to arts and crafts, instead, Italian would be a no-brainer... so it depends on where you want to place your bets. Do you want to live in an advanced, well-developed area, or are you planning to venture off the less beaten path?

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Jelle van der Lee

I would say French and/or Spanish, but I also think it depends on where are you going to work and what are you going to do.

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Learning Spanish or Chinese will obviously open doors to the largest communities of speakers worldwide.

 

I'm going to answer German, because it has maintained much of the grammar from its Indo-European origins. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-European_languages Learning it will take your understanding of language in general to the next level. Also it makes it much easier to learn grammar heavy languages like Russian.

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Well, the most important thing is that the language will only be useful if you actually learn it. And unfortunately, just taking classes doesn't get most people to a fluent level. You'll have to put in a lot of time taking in content in your languages. So pick the languages/associated cultures you actually have an interest in engaging with. If you really don't have a preference, then Spanish and Mandarin are the obvious choices. Though, if you're interested in, say, European literature, then it would make sense to study two European languages. While it's true that learning two related languages at once can get confusing, I think learning two unrelated languages at once is actually slower, because your brain has to learn to process two new systems.

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